Mats Morell

Researcher at Department of Economic History

+4618-471 1217
Visiting address:
Kyrkogårdsgatan 10

Postal address:
Box 513
751 20 UPPSALA

Short presentation

This paragraph is not available in English, therefore the Swedish version is shown.

Researcher and Professor Emeritus of Economic History, specializing in early modern to recent agricultural history. Active in the Flemish CORN-network (Comparative Rural History of the North Sea Area), founding member of the board of the European Rural History Organisation, member of the executive committee of the US Agricultural History Society. On the editorial board of Zeitschrift für Agrargeschichte und Agrarsoziologi (D), Historia Agraria (ESP) and The Agricultural History Review (UK).

Keywords: agricultural and rural history

Also available at

My courses


My research has basically covered Agrarian-Historical themes, stretching from the 17th to the late 20th century. Presently I am involved in the Land reform theme within the Flemish CORN (Comparative Rural History of the North Sea Area) network and in a NOSH-supported network on famines in nrothern Euorope and India.

I am also finishing of a project, supported by the Research foundations of Svenska Handelsbanken on the use of land for recreational purposes in connection to the increased of consumption of leisure services in the post war period. I have written a theoretical chapter, recently published in a global historical book by a well-known British publisher on this. It relates these questions to a long terms property right perspective, embarking from the notion that various types of claims has always been raised upon land and that the content of the emerging rights tend to be renegotiated when new actors and new land uses emerges. Yet another book is being prepared within this project (belated because of my long sick leave in 2014). It discusses a local example of the rise of a rural development paradigm. Papers on this have been presented at different conferences 2008, 2010 and 2013.

At the moment I am planning two research projects, one focusing the early modern agriculurtal development of east Central Sweden (the lake Mälar valley) an area curiosly neglected in the vast literature of the "agricultural revolution" in Sweden). The project further aims, using cadastral map descriptions and enclsoure acts, to provide better ground for estimation of regional (and national) gross agricultural output figures whioh may contribute to improved national and regional GDP estimations. A conference paper on the topic (focusing enclosures) was presented at the European Social Science History conference in 2016.

The second project will focus the evolvment and and disolving of the compromise in rural, forestry, agricultural and general economic policy, between the Agrarian party/the Center party and the Social Democrati party in the 20th century, embarking from the lan policy debates around 1900, and its political implications up to the 1990s.

Before my doctoral dissertation in 1987, I worked with the early modern Agrarian society in Sweden. I wrote about social differentiation amongst peasant farmers and 19th century enclosures and I published a book on proto-industrialization in Northern Sweden. My dissertation gave new inputs to the debate on pre-industrial living standards and the long Malthusian wave. I studied food consumption from the early 17th to the mid 19th century and used quantitative data from institutions for the support of paupers. I could show increasingly stable consumption during the 18th century, but also a growing one-sidedness (dependence on grain). Parts of the dissertation were presented on international conferences; it was summarized in English in a book with substantial dissemination in scientific society. Connecting to my thesis I wrote an article discussing and correcting previous research on the topic and a heavily used overview of old systems of measurement. In several publications I extended the study of food consumption to the mid 20th century. I returned to pre-industrial food consumption in an internationally published book chapter 2006.

After the dissertation I concentrated on agrarian development in the emerging industrial society. Ina project supported by the Research council for forestry and agriculture I studied the causes why small family firms dominate farming while concentration tendencies were clear in other sectors. I investigated farm mechanization, market integration, work organization, generational changes, and types of tenure and land transactions, mainly in Sweden, occasionally in Scandinavia as a whole. Applying neo-Chaynovian theory I could show that economies of scale were small up to the mid 20th century, above all in animal husbandry. Family farms did not need to generate market level profit to be reproduced and this made them competitive. Functions previously unified on the farms were split up. Primary productiuon remained of the small units, the farms, while processing was industrialized, mainly in coooperatives. In cooperation between the state and the Agrarian associations a corporative negotiation economy, with farming partially secluded from market fluctuations developed. I handled these questions in a number of publications. Most important was my synthesis, the fourth volume in the five volume series of the history of Swedish agriculture. Later I took part in a cartographic and historical project initiated by the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry and I contributed substantial parts of the text to the Atlas of Swedish agriculture and forestry in the 20th century which was published in English and Swedish in 2011 in the series The national Atlas of Sweden. Simultaneously, together with Janken Myrdal I edited the abridged one-book version in English of the Agrarian history of Sweden. I contributed a condensed one-chapter version of my own book, an introduction together with Myrdal, and the bulk of the statistical appendix.

In 2005 I returned to early modernity within the frames of COST Action A-35 ’Progressore’, a multi-national program for the study of Europe’s rural history. In 2006 I was engaged in the Flemish-led network CORN (Comparative Rural History of the North Sea Area). I was co-editor of a comparative CORM-book on Social relations, land ownership and power and together with Mats Olsson I wrote the chapter on Scandinavia 1750-2000. In this I wrote the part covering c. 1850-2000, but also had the editorial responsibility for both chapters on Scandinavia. I contributed to the introduction and conclusion, finally written by the main editors. For COST I wrote a synthetic book chapter on institutional reforms, land market and Agrarian growth in Sweden 1750-1850 and an analytical chapter on early modern institutional development, agricultural systems and ecological constraints to growth. The manuscript 23 (submitted to a journal) raises similar issues. The article 21 (attached) discusses Agrarian and demographic crisis-processes in pre-industrial Sweden.

I also led a multidisciplinary project, supported by the Swedish science council on inheritance and land transfers in Sweden, Estonia and Hungary durin the 20th century resulting in several articles

I also contributed a chapter on 18th–19th century Agrarian literature in the book Jordpäron and an internationally published book chapter where I developed the international connotations of certain themes in the older Agrarian literature.

In 2012 I got involöved in a recently finished project (supported by the Swedish science council), led by prof. Maths Isacson. It involves economic and Agrarian historians and biologists from centre for biological diversity at the University of Agrarian sciences and focuses the interface between society and nature in the pre-industrial landscape and the actions of peasant households in particular. It uses peasant diaries from two economically and naturally distinct regions, the lake Mälaren valley and the forested mining region in southern Dalarna. Papers from the project have been presented in several European and American conferences 2013-16 and at the Swedish Economic History meeting in Umeå, at the Social Science history conference in Baltimore and at a special workshop in Utrecht, all in the fall of 2015. One joint article has been publsihed, one by myself is accepted for publication in early 2017 and another is in the referee process.


Please contact the directory administrator for the organization (department or similar) to correct possible errors in the information.